Museum the New Llano Colony

Walter "Walt" W. Robison

Birth: He was born around 1889 in Georgia.  

Family Information:  

Description: He was a soap-boxer and labor organizer in his spare time.  

Pre-Colony History: He came to the colony in September 1934 from Topeka.  

Home in Colony: In February 1936, he moved from a colony house to the Keeble farm.  

Job in Colony: Soon after his arrival he joined the force at the print shop.

In December 1934 he stepped in and handled the job work at the print shop. He immediately got busy turning out graduation announcements and cards for nearby high schools.

In February 1935 he became the print shop manager when Comrade Sanford left to "take a rest." He could operate the linotype, feed the job press or the Campbell press, and was a compositor.

On May Day, 1935, some dissatisfied colonists -- most of them younger members who had not yet earned their right to vote on colony decisions -- held a meeting while Pickett was out of town and elected a new Board of Directors that didn't include Pickett. Doc Williams, an on-again / off-again colonist from the early years in California, was elected President; Eugene Carl, a new member who'd only been at the colony about three months -- he was still a probationer and consequently didn't even have voting rights in colony matters, was elected Executive Director; and Walter Robison, also a recent arrival, was elected Chairman of the Board of Directors.

Pickett and his supporters fought the action in the Vernon Parish courts, but even though the courts ruled the new board was not legal, they also refused to name Pickett's board as the legal directors, so the disagreements within the colony only continued to escalate.

Read the Court Judgment dated September 6, 1935.

In order to claim that an official board had been properly elected after the court judgment had been handed down, the new board and leaders held another election. They advertised for former colonists to send in their proxies and adopted a rule permitting all resident members who had been at the colony more than sixty days to vote in the election, provided too few proxies were received to hold a regular stock holders' meeting.

In October 1935 he was nominated to be on the self-proclaimed "legal" Board of Directors, along with (in order of nomination), Robert K. Williams, E.D. Carl, Lester Caves, Crockett Campbell, John Szpila, Harold Emery, Charles Lawrence, Chester Peecher, E.O. Joynes, Chester Page, Horace Cronk, George Hullinger, "Chauncey" DuProz, Mrs. Olive Lentz, Mrs. Mabel Busick, Lionel Crossland, Charles Derleth, J.H. "Dad" Ribbing and Cy Horney.

As expected, less than one fourth the required stock was represented at the Stockholders' meeting, so the colonists proceeded with the election of a new board of directors as planned. Those selected were: Robert K. Williams, E.C. Carl, Lester Caves, Crockett Campbell, Harold Emery, Chester Peecher, E.O. Joynes, Charles Lawrence, and Chester Page. Runners up were Mrs. Mabel Busick, Horace Cronk and John Szpila.

The battles for control of the colony continued over the next couple of years, threats were made, there were some physical altercations, and even a few guns fired. Many colonists became so tired of all the fighting they moved away -- leaving an even greater shortage of workers for the industries.

Read about some of the conflict... "Llano Colonist" dated August 3, 1935.

In October 1935 Walter Robison was finishing the printing of the Colonist while Howard Stansbury, Mrs. Doehlert, Mrs. Emery and Vivian Crossland wrapped them for the mail.

In February 1936, he was working on the Keeble farm.

At some point Walter switched his allegiance back to Pickett's side (perhaps when he wasn't elected to be on the October 1935 Board of Directors) because in April 1936 Eugene Carl was appointed as receiver for the colony, though immediate claims of unfitness were brought against him by George Pickett, Walter Robison, and their followers; the court heard evidence on the matter for two days, before the judge announced from the bench that it was his opinion that if a receiver was to be appointed, it should be some person not connected with the corporation.

Richard Pollard, a young businessman from a family that had always been friendly to Llano (even having loaned them large sums of money), was appointed in that same month. He stated that one of his conditions for accepting the position was that colonists must agree to work together. He appointed Dr. Robert K. Williams to be his representative in the colony and Eugene Carl to act as his accountant.

Other Info: In December 1934 Amos and Andy lived again for twenty minutes in the Open Air Taxi Cab company garage with Walter as Andy and Archie Ogden as Amos, Ernest as "Lightnin" and Jack Barnett as "Kingfish." Mrs. Ogden took the part of Madame Queen and the fun was quite agreeable to all.

Later that month he, Archie and Ernest repeated their roles -- this time the skit was that Amos and Andy had a dry oil well in New Jersey; Andy planted some oil in the hole and then tried to sell stock in it, however, a government agent, in the person of Roy McClean stopped the deal and placed Andy under arrest.

In September 1935 Editor Thomason at the wheel of his trusty Nash, accompanied by Walter W. Robison, chief of the print shop layout, traveled to New Orleans to bring back Dan Gay, a press-man to help in the newspaper plant.

By 10am the next day they were in New Orleans and had broken the new to Dan and his wife and son, Frankey, after which the two "took in the town," including Canal Street and the historic old French quarters; looked longingly towards Lake Pontchartrain, but decided to "find other stimulating liquids."

By noon next day Dan was packed and the Nash headed West by North towards Baton Rouge over Huey Long's paved highway. Dan and Frankey fell asleep in the back seat.

Walter in his role as guide, "guided 'em all over Central Louisiana, by way of country roads, by-ways and bywords. After having traveled far enough to have reached Kansas City... lo, a light ahead. De Ridder! They had not intended to come out at De Ridder, but was glad they did."  

Post-Colony History: He left the colony during the night in February 1936.

In 1940 he was living with his wife, Maudie, and son, Russel, in Natchitoches, Louisiana.  


Sources: "Llano Colonist": September 15, 1934, December 8, 1934, December 22, 1934, December 29, 1934, February 16, 1935, February 23, 1935, August 3, 1935, September 14, 1935, October 12, 1935, February 29, 1936, March 7, 1936; US Census: 1940; "Bread and Hyacinths; The Rise and Fall of Utopian Los Angeles" by Paul Greenstein, Nigey Lennon and Lionel Rolfe; ; "Southern Exposure": Vol 1; No 3 & 4 (Llano Cooperative Colony, Louisiana)  


Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated February 23, 1935.

Clipping from the "Llano Colonist" dated June 22, 1935: "Three Corporation Officers - Walter Robison, Chairman of the Board; Eugene Carl, Executive Director; Dr. R. K. Williams, President."

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